TORONTO (AP) _ Canada refused to admit Gerry Adams of Northern Ireland, president of the IRA’s legal political wing, over the weekend because of his criminal record, an immigration official said Monday.
Adams, also is a member of the British Parliament from the province, was denied permission to board a Toronto-bound flight in Amsterdam.
Len Westerberg of the Employment and Immigration Ministry said Adams was refused entry because he was convicted of attempting to escape from prison in 1974 after being held for two years under emergency powers.
The Irish Republican Army is fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland and is outlawed on both sides of the border, although the Sinn Fein is legal.
Adams was trying to reach Canada after being refused a U.S. visa to address a conference of Irish Americans this week in Buffalo, N.Y.
The four-day national convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which supports the unification of Ireland, began Monday at the Buffalo Hilton, organizer Michael Cummings said a telephone interview from Albany.
Gov. Mario Cuomo is to address the biennial meeting Thursday.
Cummings, deputy commissioner of the New York State Liquor Authority, said the plan had been for Adams to travel to Canada and speak at Niagara Falls, Ontario, just across the border from Buffalo.
Cummings condemned what he termed the ″last-minute and underhanded way″ Canada rejected Adams, who has been the country before. ″This fellow is being treated as the most wanted criminal in the world,″ he said.
According to Cummings, the convention of about 1,100 delegates will hear from Adams by international telephone hookup Tuesday afternoon.
Westerberg said Adams could enter Canada as a Member of Parliament for official business on a diplomatic passport, ″but on a private visit, he is treated as a private citizen.″
Asked how Adams or other Sinn Fein leaders with criminal records may have come here in the past, Westerberg said Irish citizens normally do not need visas for visits of up to three months and immigration officials who do not recognize those with records might let them in.
Airlines are liable for returning passengers denied entry at Canadian airports, and Canada now has several teams around the world helping to identify inadmissable travelers, the immigration official said.
He said a militant Northern Ireland Protestant leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley, has been allowed into Canada on speaking tours because he has no criminal record.